Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are in stores, and amid the excitement of the last few months, I almost forgot about one of the most obnoxious aspects of a franchise I hate to hate, Wi-fi events. Don’t get me wrong, I love making legendary pokemon available to capture, but doing it for only a temporary time with conditions is just a punch to the face to anyone without a constant reliable internet connection. Myself, I missed Arceus in its first distribution round because I was just getting back into pokemon at the time and had no clue what wi-fi events even were, and I missed it the second time because I never heard about it. That’s the thing with these events, Pokemon will announce them on their website, but unless you’re actively seeking them out all the time, they’re not actually gonna bother getting the information to you. And having missed the Diamond/Pearl/Platinum events, I couldn’t access some of the in-game events in Heart Gold/Soul Silver. I missed out on several events while living in college residence, where the only internet I could get was through an Ethernet cable. And to those thinking I shouldn’t be wasting my time at school with children’s games anyway, shut up dad! I told you not to read my blog!
Ironically, why this matters now and where it started are essentially the same thing. Outside of Japan and their cool gameboy-cellphone internet adapter technology, the Eon Ticket was actually the first extra-game event, and it was needed to capture Latias or Latios in Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. It’s a bit different from more modern events in that, as Chuggaaconroy proved in his Emerald LP, it can actually still be done today, albeit it’s a huge pain in the ass.
The new version for OR/AS, the Eon Pass, is also unique in the way it works. Some games will just have it by default (it’s either built into some cartridges or is randomized when a save file is created), and everybody else can get them by StreetPassing with someone who already has it. And I just have to ask, why? I get that Nintendo’s got some cool tech, from the Eon Ticket with the E-Reader, to StreetPass today, I love that Nintendo makes this stuff. But locking content behind it benefits no one. The ratio of games that get the Pass by default was probably high enough so that if you live in a city, with dense population, you should have no problem getting it. But since I started writing this, I walked three hours through rural Canadian snow to get my copy of Alpha Sapphire; I get to StreetPass about two people per month, and, chances are, this will be another event that I miss out on. I never got Victini, Arceus, Shaymin, Darkrai, Spiritomb, or most other pokemon where just buying the game, buying both games even, isn’t enough. I was finally ready with wi-fi for the Diancie event, and Nintendo made a deal with EB Games (GameStop), adding another hoop for the player to jump through, and one that I just couldn’t reach.
I’m not just bitter because I missed out. I’m bitter because the children will miss out. Like I said, these events are temporary, and they kill a game’s replay-ability, and long term value. These days, you can go all the way back to the generation 1 games, Red, Blue and Yellow and beat them like a beardman; do it, as my highschool chemistry teach would say, to completion (of course, he told us to be married first). You need both games, two gameboys, a link cable, and you have to glitch it a bit for mew, but the entire game is still there. With the new games, you don’t get the whole game, and at this point, it seems you never will. Nintendo’s shown no interest in re-releasing content for Diamond, Pearl, Platinum, Black, White, Black 2, White 2, X or Y, and just look at that ridiculous list; 9 games that, unless you’ve already got every event for them, will never be complete again. And now Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire can go on that list too, since even if you do get to StreetPass people, by next year a new game will be out and there will be no one playing these games to StreetPass with.
There’s no future to the new games, and that really pisses me off. Pokemon is nearly a 20 year old franchise, it should know about the importance of longevity. And for a long time, I was convinced they actually cared about making good games. But more and more lately, I see Gamefreak, and Nintendo as a whole, deteriorating and falling to the same level of disingenuous, cynical, micro-transacting scum as the rest of this pitiful gaming industry. I can’t see them as some kind of hope for gaming anymore, or enjoy their games without having pay-DLC and wi-fi inconvenience shoved in the way. I got Alpha Sapphire, and I’ll probably begrudgingly shell out another $50 for the rest of the game and an extra save file in a few months. But the whole time I’m playing it, I won’t be able to shake the feeling that, in a few years, it and every other pokemon game currently out will just be hollow, incomplete and forgotten.
Don’t Lose Your Way